Preservationists hope rock wall will save iconic lighthouse

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Postby jaymatt1978 » Thu Jan 03, 2008 1:58 pm

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Postby ericlighthouse » Fri Jan 04, 2008 3:42 pm

Glad to see progress on this one.
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Postby Grover1 » Thu Jan 31, 2008 8:21 pm

A Little More ... from The Bay Journal ... Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Clinging to a rocky outpost no bigger than an average city residential lot, New Point Comfort Lighthouse in Virginia is inching closer to stability.

The 202-year-old lighthouse is Mathews County's signature icon and the latest effort to save it involves an estimated 5,000 tons of granite boulders and a wall around the lighthouse on its quarter-acre spit of land in Mobjack Bay to keep it safe from 100-year storms.

It would also include a pedestrian walkway, said Earl Soles, a member of the New Point Comfort Lighthouse Preservation Task Force, which is assisting Mathews County in a long-term preservation plan and planning a fund drive for the project.

The lighthouse was built between 1802 and 1805 by Elzy Burroughs. It was the fourth one built in the Bay; only two of the other older lighthouses still stand. At the time of its construction, the lighthouse land could be accessed by foot at low tide. Now it's on a small island.

The 63-foot-tall New Point Comfort Lighthouse was first lit on Jan. 17, 1805. Burroughs was appointed by President Thomas Jefferson to be the first keeper of the light. It hasn't been used as a navigational beacon since 1963 and has suffered from repeated vandalism. Mathews acquired the lighthouse in 1975, three years after it was declared a National Historic Landmark.

The lighthouse property is off-limits and "no trespassing" signs are posted. Mathews County Administrator Steve Whiteway said the lighthouse's structure and the stairway inside it are dangerous.

Scott Hardaway, a coastal geologist with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, said the lighthouse sits about 8 or 9 feet above low mean water. The rocks that are supposed to act as barriers to seawater were "just thrown around" the island, he said, and were rendered less effective when they were further tossed about by Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

The proposal is to remove those rocks and build a protective granite wall and a path around the island, designed by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

"That ought to take care of it for a while," Hardaway said. Earlier this year, the Army Corps of Engineers completed a study to see if the island could be expanded and stabilized with dredging material. But that didn't pan out because of the expense. The granite boulders option is estimated by Soles to cost $750,000. The county is awaiting a final design of a preservation project and, once it has permits, will begin actively seeking grants and private donations to fund the project.

But that's just a start. The task force and Mathews County would also like to restore the lighthouse.
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Postby Pharoslvr » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:46 am

We can all breath a little easier when the NPC project is complete. We used to use it as a 'windward' marker back in my old sailing days. It has always been a welcome site.
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